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Austin

Austin: Order in all the craziness

A glimpse into the hours of research done over break

A glimpse into the hours of research done over break

Pies I made (they were pretty good, I'm not going to lie)

Pies I made (they were pretty good, I’m not going to lie)

A beautiful hike I went on around Lake Coeur d'Alene with my family and dog

A beautiful hike I went on around Lake Coeur d’Alene with my family and dog

Awesome fireworks over the lake during the Christmas celebration ceremony!

Awesome fireworks over the lake during the Christmas celebration ceremony!

Pho: Vietnamese is one of my favorite types of food, and my parents surprised me by taking me to a great place near the airport before I left!

Pho: Vietnamese is one of my favorite types of food, and my parents surprised me by taking me to a great place near the airport before I left!

Thanksgiving break is over, and finals season is upon us. Last week I traveled home to Idaho and spent a relaxing week with my family. There was a lot of sleeping, movie watching, and eating… and not enough homework, so really it was an effective break. It was so nice to have a week of rejuvenation to just step back from the business of student life to check in with my family, and spend some quality time with my dog. There is nothing better than combining specific ratios of ingredients and producing something wonderful, like a pie. I love to cook, and so being at college and not making my meals all the time has been an interesting struggle. However, when I go home I make the best of it by making a lot of food, and Thanksgiving is a perfect time to do so!  I’m slowly discovering the longer I’m away from home, the more “homesick” I am; I really looked forward to going home, and was sad to leave.

However, we only have two more days of classes, reading day, and then finals start bright & early next Monday morning. I have a giant essay due for my women writers class this Friday. I am researching the reputation of Emily Bronte before and after her female identity was revealed. It has been a really interesting experience to do a literary research paper, as opposed to a science-focused research paper. The databases are different, and the type of writing and critiques are different as well, so this class especially has taught me a lot about studies outside of my discipline, which has been a good experience. I have a standardized chemistry exam next week, my final presentation for my Ecology class this week, a final for that class next week, and a final essay exam for my writing class next week as well. Needless to say: this week there is not nearly enough sleeping or movie watching, and a lot of homework doing! Overall though, this semester has been very challenging, and I have learned a lot about myself and what I’m studying. I get more and more grateful every day I walk around campus, and am learning to appreciate the fact that I am fortunate enough to study what I love, and pursue my dreams one final at a time.

Until next time,

-Austin

Austin: Murdock Research Conference 2013

"Team Fly" by our research poster

“Team Fly” by our research poster
Left to right: Mary Depner (’14 Biochemistry), Julie Sadino (’14 Biochemistry), Katherina Rees (’16 Biology, Math), Austin Browning (’16 Biology).

photo17

Jacob Priester’s (’14) title slide for the presentation he gave on behalf of Linfield for the Life Sciences section.

 

Last weekend I was very fortunate to travel to Vancouver, Washington to attend the Murdock Charitable Trust Undergraduate Research Conference, co-hosted by Lewis and Clark College. Part of the mission of the Murdock Charitable Trust is to fund physical and life science research laboratories across the Pacific Northwest in order to “strengthen the region’s educational and cultural base in creative and sustainable ways”( http://www.murdock-trust.org/grants/college-science-research.php) . Linfield is fortunate enough to be a beneficiary of research funding, and thus we attend the conference. The Biology, Physics, and Chemistry departments traveled to the conference with research posters in hand, ready to learn. In preparation for the conference, students create research posters (4’X3’) to summarize our projects over the summer, and in some cases, as my own, research that has extended before and after the summer term.

Of the 11 schools that attended, both the Life sciences and the physical sciences gave 15 research talks, each 20 minutes with a 5 minute Q and A session. The following day was filled with poster presentations, where each research laboratory presented their posters to judges, faculty, and other students from the region. It was absolutely mind-blowing to hear and learn about other undergraduate research that happens all across the region. I learned about protein-folding, cadmium and bone depression, frogs in Costa Rica, Malaria vaccinations, and even talked to other fruit fly people, which was really exciting. Overall, I learned so much, and it was great practice to listen to others’ presentations, as well as practice our own presentation skills. This conference reminded me how fortunate I am to be involved with undergraduate research, and especially how awesome it is that we can travel to conferences like this to network and learn about other research that is happening around the region.  I am happy to be a wildcat.

Until next time,

-Austin

 

Austin: What did you learn at school today?

October has come and past, the sidewalks across campus are overflowing with leaves, and layers of jackets are becoming a necessary prerequisite before going outside. My Ecology midterm went well, and I’m right in the thick of some big lab reports due, as well as in the midst of starting the 6th novel in my diverse voices woman writers’ class. Needless to say, these last few weeks have been a blur for me, and I can’t wait for Thanksgiving break, which is only 3 weeks away!

The other night I was having dinner with some friends, and one of them asked the table, “What did you learn at school today?” This question seemed all too familiar to me, as memories of sitting at the dinner table in high school with my family flooded my mind. Every night during dinner, my brother and I were asked to share something we learned at school that day, and my parents shared what their day at work was like. I hadn’t heard that question since I moved away from home, so it caught me off guard. I think it is a really valuable experience to take a step back and think about what you learned each day, because each day you are bound to learn something new, especially while in school. It was fun to share what I learned in my Ecology class with my friends, and to hear about their history, art, or philosophy classes too. I feel like it was a nice reality check: we are all so fortunate to be enrolled in college, where we are able to pursue our dreams, where our beliefs are challenged, our minds are stretched, and we learn new things every single day.

Tis the season to be grateful! Until next time,

-Austin

Austin: Colloquium and Academic Advising at Linfield

These are my favorite trees on campus; I've watched them change from green to slightly red, to yellow all in the last few weeks.

These are my favorite trees on campus; I’ve watched them change from green to slightly red, to yellow all in the last few weeks.

The Fog was so cool the other morning on my early-morning walk to Starbucks to study!

The Fog was so cool the other morning on my early-morning walk to Starbucks to study!

Beautiful Fall colors around the wellness trail

Beautiful Fall colors around the wellness trail

 

One of the activities that I am involved with this year works through the Academic Advising office, in a program called Colloquium. Colloquium is a 1 credit class taken by students during their first semester at Linfield, and it is co-taught by a peer advisor and a faculty advisor. The focus of the course is to bridge the gap between high school and college life, in the personal sense, but really the Academic sense as well. Throughout the semester, each class session is devoted to a variety of topics, ranging from exploring the Linfield Curriculum, to understanding how to put together your long-term academic plan, to navigating the career development process. Being a peer advisor this year has been an incredible learning experience. I have 22 first-year students that I keep tabs on, starting in the summer before they even get to campus. They receive letters from myself and their faculty advisor in June, and then I work with them all summer to prepare them for registration, and to make sure that they have everything squared away before they even get to campus. During orientation weekend, we have several class sessions where we meet with parents and students, and prepare them for their first week of college.

Now that the semester is 9 weeks in, a fact that I still can’t wrap my head around, I am meeting with each of them this week for individual advising appointments, where we will talk about how they’re adjusting to life at Linfield, some of their long-term academic and career goals, and we will go over their 4-year plans. I love how much effort Linfield puts in to ensuring academic focus and success starting before day one of college. A huge reason that I am able to graduate in 4 years, study abroad, major, double minor, and complete all of the pre-med requirements is because of colloquium, and the intense focus that Linfield places on academic planning. I have friends at other schools where they get 1 appointment with their faculty advisor per semester for 15 minutes, and that is just so hard for me to fathom. I’ve become accustomed to having such a personalized advising relationship with my advisor; I can shoot her an e-mail with questions any time, or just stop in to her office and ask her questions, and I’m good to go. Being on the advisor side of the equation is a very rewarding process, one where I’m learning how to challenge my students, and how to foster a productive time while they are studying at Linfield. There ya have it, my nerd-out of the day.

Until next time,

-Austin

 

Austin: The Ecology of Hope and Devastation

Dr. Gary Machlis from the University of Idaho, and who is the science adviser to the National Parks Service, recently visited Linfield, and gave a lecture entitled: The Ecology of Hope, and Devastation. His lecture tied perfectly into the Program for Liberal Arts and Civic Engagement (PLACE) theme this year, which is Legacies of War. Last week, there was a screening of a film relating to warfare ecology, and it really set the tone for Dr. Machlis’ visit to campus.

The documentary caught my attention right away. Images of veterans memorials, waving flags, and victorious music, flapped across the screen, and were contrasted immediately with horrific images of not only civilians running from agent orange, but also of giant forests being destroyed in Vietnam, oil spills reaching across oceans, and left over bombs scattered across fields after an “armistice” is reached. The film called attention the what it called “the silent victim of war,” the environment and citizens harmed for many generations to come because of warfare.

Dr. Machlis’ lecture focused first on the Ecology of Hope, that is using Ecology to solve the world’s problems, and he did this through connecting the dots between many different things that you would never expect to be related. For example, cocaine trade and the water quality of the Colombia river, or the lack of light in refugee tents in South Africa to the rates of rape of young women, lack of education, and harsh poverty facing those refugees. It was amazing how these comparisons brought to our attention the interconnectedness of issues, and how the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities, all overlap to solve, or create problems.

This morning, Dr. Machlis visited my Principles of Ecology class, and participated in a discussion with our class about his career path, as well as his role in society. He talked about his experience at Yale, where he did his graduate work, and how flunking 1 course taught him more than all of the A’s he had ever received. He then worked his way around the room and asked each one of us a class, or area of study that terrifies us, something that we are afraid of getting a bad grade. His overall advice for us was to be brave, not to let the barriers that we face in society as young people to get in the way of our success.

His call to action from both his lecture, and class discussion, were incredible. He has faith in young people, and doesn’t doubt our abilities. Dr. Machlis highlighted the parts of science that fascinate me: the fact that by investigating the unknown, and improving what has already been created, we can tackle the biggest problems facing our world today. These experiences will always stick with me, and I am so happy that I was able to be apart of this great discussion, and engage is such thought-provoking discourse.

Until next time,

-Austin